iQ Managing Partners

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The Beginning

Funding Innovation - no strings attached!

That's right. You can get funding to develop your innovative idea from Innovation Quest (iQ), no strings attached. iQ has been founded as a non-profit, philanthropic corporation by successful Cal Poly graduates and business leaders interested in giving back and enhancing innovation at the same time. These highly successful leaders and others donated their own money to fund current University students engaged in Senior Projects and/or Master's Thesis' or University faculty, leading student teams to develop and perfect innovative ideas leading to commercializable products to help all involved.

This is a labor of love for the principals and an opportunity for all University graduates in many different fields to join forces to give back. A small Alumni Sponsored Award may give many young entrepreneurial students the opportunity of a lifetime.

The Managing Partners

Carson Chen Carson Chen
Managing Partner

Carson has been involved with Innovation Quest from inception and is a co-founder and its Chairman.

Carson Chen, a retired member of the Cisco Systems seasoned executive team, was the Vice President and General Manager of the Network Edge Aggregation & Router and Cable & Wireless Platform Division. He built the broadband business, from inception, helping to create Cisco's dominant worldwide industry leadership position. He led teams that designed and developed the AGS+, 7000 and 7500-VIP Series Cisco routers, powering the early expansion of the world wide web infrastructure of the 1990s to mid 2000s and the broadband internet data-voice-videostreaming services we enjoy today. An electrical engineer with over 30 years of experience in the development and marketing of broadband and high-speed telecommunication technologies, Carson has held senior positions with National Semiconductor Corporation, Ford Aerospace and West Coast United Broadcasting Co. Carson is responsible for issuing over 30 United States Patents and holds six, himself. In addition, he authored the book titled "Active Filter Design." He currently serves on the boards of technology companies and has lead acquisitions and sales of several. He is an Electronics Engineering Alumni of Cal Poly, Class of 1973.

Richard W. Boberg Richard W. Boberg
Managing Partner

Rich is a co-founder of Innovation Quest and has been involved from its inception. He retired from NetApp in 2005, but then co-founded IO Turbine in December 2009, and re-retired in September 2013. Rich Boberg co-founded IO Turbine as CEO and Chairman in 2009, developing flash caching software for virtualized systems with initial focus on VMware. IO Turbine was acquired in 2011 by Fusion-io, a pioneer in high end flash modules and systems. After the acquisition Rich served as Fusion'io's EVP of Strategic Business Development, driving specific strategic activities with targeted key partners. He also acted as GM of the Caching Solutions group at Fusion-io with the mission to dramatically improve I/O performance and efficiency in virtualized and non-virtualized servers working with existing primary storage solutions. Rich Boberg was a veteran executive of Network Appliance ("NetApp"), a world leader in unified storage solutions for today's data-intensive enterprise. As employee number 6, Rich was at NetApp for 12 years in various executive positions in Marketing, Corporate Development, and Engineering. At various times he has directed product management, strategic marketing, mergers and acquisitions, several software engineering groups, and strategic alliances and business development. Prior to NetApp, Rich held management positions at Intel Corporation and several startup companies. He holds a BSEE from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a MSEE from MIT.

Laura Pickering Laura Pickering
Managing Partner

With over 27 years in the high technology industry, Laura Pickering has a proven record as a leader and catalyst for growth. Having joined two very successful, high growth Silicon Valley startups when they were young, NetApp and Oracle, Laura has spent the majority of her career contributing to and learning from the best. Most recently Laura retired from her position as vice president in the Office of the CEO and Environmental Responsibility Advocate at NetApp, Inc. where she was a key advisor to and member of NetApp’s executive team and led the Company’s environmental initiatives. Prior to joining NetApp, Laura held key leadership, sales, development, and marketing positions at Oracle, Data General and NetManage. In 2009, the YWCA named Laura as one of its Tribute to Women, TWIN, award recipients for her leadership, accomplishments and contributions to NetApp. In addition, Laura is cofounding executive at Innovation Quest, a nonprofit corporation founded by successful California Polytechnic State University graduates and business leaders interested in driving innovation and empowering student entrepreneurs. Laura is a member of the board of directors of the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs, the largest and fastest growing nonprofit association in Northern California dedicated exclusively to helping early stage entrepreneurs across all technology sectors build successful companies. She is also a member of the Cal Poly Foundation board of directors, a member of the executive committee of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, chairperson of the advancement committee for the College of Engineering and member of the industry advisory board of the Women in Engineering Program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Laura has a BS in Electrical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Keith R. Fox Keith R. Fox
Managing Partner

Keith is currently the CEO of the Keith and Pamela Fox Family Foundation focused on children's health and education. His philanthropic work also includes a board seat at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital Foundation at Stanford. He also sits as an advisor to the Dean of the School of Business at the University of Connecticut. Keith has been an operating executive, founder, investor, and board member over his 30-year career. Most recently Keith was a board member at the University of Connecticut Foundation, and also held an executive cabinet position for the President of Cal Poly before terming out. Keith was founder and CEO of Brandsoft, an enterprise software and consulting company focused on brand management. Before founding Brandsoft, Keith was Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Marketing at Cisco Systems 1996-2002. Prior to Cisco, Keith was with Apple Computer from 1980 -1995 holding a number of sales, sales management, marketing, and general management positions over his fifteen-year career with the company. Keith graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Business with a major in marketing. He also holds a M.B.A. degree from Babson College in Massachusetts. He is an avid golfer and married to wife Pam. They have 2 children. Katelyn; who is a 2010 graduate from the School of Fine Arts - The University of Connecticut, and Jillian; who is a 2012 marketing major graduate from the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo School of Business.

Thomas M. Kelly Thomas M. Kelly
Managing Partner

Thomas Kelly is a pioneer in creating executive learning strategies, leadership, and communications solutions for global organizations. He has 30 years of experience in corporate Education and Learning at Cisco Systems, NetApp, Oracle Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Next Inc. and Control Data Corporation. A pure visionary of Learning solutions and leadership programs, his development programs, collaborative unifying style and action oriented initiatives serve as a model for colleagues across diverse industries. As Cisco Systems Vice President of Learning Solutions, Mr. Kelly developed and executed learning solutions models that enhanced customer, employee, and external partner performance, created learning programs globally and launched the Cisco Career Certification Program, resulting in the certification of more than 770,000 professionals between 1998 and 2005. Moreover, this leader and keynote speaker published in 2004 the book entitled, “The Business Case for E-Learning” which he co-authored, and has written numerous articles for training and learning periodicals between 2001 and 2010. Since 2008 he has co chaired the Learning Leaders Think Tank, a forum of peers which creates white papers focused on pressing issues and technologies in the corporate learning sector. Since 2008 Tom has been working as an Industry Consultant and Strategic Architect for small and medium enterprises, as well as Fortune 100 companies.